Today we’d like to introduce you to Allison Adams.
Allison, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I trained at art school to be an actress, but even then, I was torn because I also wanted to study painting. I was interested in studying and portraying characters: whether as a role or through a portrait. My parents are working artists as well, so over the years, I began to learn more and more toward painting, learning from my dad, taking classes, and eventually giving up my acting career completely in the name of painting. I had managed to work professionally as an artist for several years when I met my English husband, and when I left the country to start a family with him, the artwork took a back seat to care for our family. After some years, we moved back to my home in Southern California, but sadly, it wasn’t long before he was in a motor accident that left him severely brain injured and physically helpless. During that difficult time, I was able to harness my creativity (and encourage the kids to do the same) as a means of coping. For me, painting became more important than ever.
When my husband passed away a few years later, shortly before the 2016 election, I was lost as to what to do with my grief and anger and uncertain future. Around this time, an old friend enthusiastically told me about Eleanor Rosevelt’s life and legacy. I was so hungry for that kind of inspiration that I decided to paint a picture of Eleanor… and then I painted another woman of history, and the ideas just kept coming. There were so many stories to honor, many that I’d never learned about myself. I wanted to share their stories (and faces) with others, and that’s how my project came to be. It has been over two years now, and I’ve never run out of ideas. These women have opened doors for me, but they’ve also helped me become a better artist, mother, and human.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Of course, it has never been a smooth road. I don’t think it ever is for people pursuing a life in the arts, partly because there is no map. Its a highly unregulated career. Some of us are just more tolerant of instability than others, perhaps. But the rewards, the challenges, the zig-zagging path are all part of the life you may be meant to live, after all. I think it’s important to listen to the stories inside you…and tell them however you can. But the older I get, the more confident I am that this was the way it was meant to be for me.
Also, having creative friends and mentors in my life has been crucial. It’s important to see that the cookie-cutter life is just a myth anyway and there are so many wonderful examples of people who have followed their own creative path. If art is what someone wants to do, find a way to keep doing it… even if its fifteen minutes a day. The discipline, even a tiny bit, will grow you and change you and make life more worthwhile.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into Groundbreaking Girls story. Tell us more, what else should we know?
For the past two years, I’ve exclusively been working on oil portraits of women who have changed/are changing the world. I’ve been blessed with opportunities to show them in galleries, libraries, magazines, and books. I am proud of the way things are going, of course, but I’m mostly thankful that these women I’ve been painting have encouraged me in my journey of grief and re-imagination. I want to protect and promote their ideas for my daughter and other women (and men).
It is important to remember that we come from a legacy of women who overcame great odds to make the changes we often take for granted. I believe we need to keep fighting for these rights so, at the very least, they don’t disappear. I like to add biographies and quotes to the images so that people can learn more about the character of these incredible women to whom we owe so much. You can see these on my website (www.groundbreakinggirls.com) and on Instagram (@groundbreakinggirls)
Next years calendar (so far) includes some solo shows: the Women’s Museum of California in La Jolla (Liberty Station) and also at Concordia University in Orange. I also will be speaking about the healing power of art at the Creativity Festival in Los Angeles this December.
Looking back on your childhood, what experiences do you feel played an important role in shaping the person you grew up to be?
My parents are both artists so from the beginning, they encouraged self-expression and gave me permission to follow my talents and interests. My siblings and I all pursued very different paths, but individuality was highly regarded in our family. My parents also moved us around and traveled internationally so that we had a broader experience of humanity and unique ways of living. Because of this, I’ve never seen the world with the same boundaries that many of my peers do. I kind of missed out in understanding what normal society expected of a girl like me. Perhaps that is why I’m so interested in telling the stories of unconventional women through my work.
- Website: www.groundbreakinggirls.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: groundbreakinggirls
- Facebook: GroundbreakingGirls